Committee votes to refer ex-IRS official Lois Lerner for criminal prosecution

IRS official Lois Lerner waits to testify at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters).

The House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday voted along party lines to refer former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution for alleged actions relating to the IRS’s targeting controversy.

The 23-14 vote took place behind closed doors so that lawmakers could discuss protected taxpayer information that only members of certain congressional panels can access.

Republicans on the committee claim to have evidence that Lerner helped direct IRS targeting against conservative groups, misled investigators and exposed confidential taxpayer information.

Lerner’s attorney, William Taylor, said Wednesday that the referral is “just another attempt by Republicans to vilify Ms. Lerner for political gain.” He also noted that the Justice Department is already investigating the IRS targeting matter.

“Ms. Lerner has done nothing wrong,” Taylor said. “She did not violate any law or regulation. She did not ‎mislead Congress. She did not interfere with the rights of any organization to a tax exemption. ‎Those are the facts.”‎

MORE: The next two days for Lois Lerner and the IRS targeting saga

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee plans to vote Thursday on a resolution to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before the panel about the targeting issue.

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Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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